It was a warm afternoon at the Seventh Heaven as Tifa set out the drinks on the table in front of each customer. The table in question was populated by five Turks and a (supposed) illegitimate sibling to Rufus Shinra.

Cherri, Reno and Mikari sat on one side, facing Snow, Rude and Hikou on the other. The six were each engrossed on their PHS screens, their fingers sliding left, right, up and down, pushing small shiny materia across the screen. Occasionally, they stopped to ponder, to think, to analyze, to strategize their next move, all except Reno, whose fingers moved erratically across the screen.

“I’m out of lives,” the redhead announced with a frown. He scooted closer to Mikari on the already crowded seat that housed three instead of the intended two people on each side. “Can you-”

“No,” she cut him off without pause and without looking up from her device.

Reno pouted and tried to make eye contact with the other members of the group, but no one acknowledged his plea. “I’ll make it worth your while,” he offered again. “Don’t be greedy.”

The negotiations, if they could be called that, were interrupted by the arrival of a blond delivery boy, or rather man. Cloud Strife stopped at the Turks’ (and illegitimate Shinra) table and inquired with mild curiosity. “How far how you guys gotten?” A chorus of numbers assaulted him, the highest being one hundred and sixty-five. The other numbers were also in the hundreds, surprisingly without exception. Cloud shook his head, “you’re leaving me behind.”

Cherri pouted, “I’m stuck!” She declared. She was in charge of the Shinra Gaming Department, including the Mobile Games division, but those match three games were hard.

“Me too,” Cloud agreed, pulling his PHS out of his pocket. “And I’m out of lives for now.”

“Here,” Mikari offered, sending a life to him.

“Hey!” Reno immediately protested, “I could have used that.”

“Don’t be greedy,” Hikou reminded.

“It’s the least we could do,” Snow agreed.

“We all agreed to save a life for him,” Cherri added.

Rude nodded quietly and Reno grumbled, “fine.”

“Thanks!” Cloud pulled up a chair, stolen from a vacant table, and focused on the tiny colorful materia on the screen.

His bliss only lasted a few seconds however, before Tifa appeared and politely requested, “can I talk to you in the kitchen?”

Cloud reluctantly paused his game and followed the bartender. Their voices were muffled by the distance and closed door, but there was something about bills not being paid, having too many mouths to feed and prioritizing expenses.

“That’s your fault you know,” Reno pointed out with a grin.

“Not at all,” Mikari calmly defended. “Anyone can type a credit card number.”

“But you were the one who swiped it.” Hikou grinned at her own card pun and Reno wondered if her system was not yet fully cleansed of whatever that substance was they encountered on that mission.

“It wasn’t me,” the redhead corrected. “My hands have no business in the back pocket of Cloud’s pants.”

“Then who…?” Hikou looked around the table, everyone remained silent for a full ten seconds before Cherri raised three fingers. With the proper number of virtual lives paid, Hikou frowned at the zero on her game screen and hoped it was worth it.

“Rude,” Cherri revealed. Five pairs of eyes turned towards the man who wore sunglasses indoors, and remained on his motionless poker face for a full ten seconds. Then Snow reached into her pocket and placed a credit card on the table.

“We still need to return it.” After briefly glancing at the card, at Snow as they let her words sink in, then at the card again, everyone once again looked at Rude.

Rude said nothing and the silence stretched for another ten seconds… until Hikou snatched the card.


Cherri, Snow and I are playing Sailor Moon Drops, a match three, luck is everything, the odds are always against you game. There’s also a small reference to Hikou’s story October, which you can read at: http://archiveofourown.org/works/10731699?view_adult=true

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